Four in ten consumers with at least a moderate interest in audio are willing to pay more for high-quality audio electronics equipment, a new study suggests.
Trade group Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) found that the appeal of high-quality audio electronics extends beyond the enthusiasts, with 39 percent of those with some interest in audio willing to spend more for better quality.
The study was conducted in June 2011 through an online survey of 1,440 U.S. adults aimed to represent the total online consumer universe demographically, with a margin of error of 2.6 percent.
One in three consumers (34 percent) consider themselves "audio enthusiasts," while a similar number of consumers have moderate (34 percent) or little (32 percent) interest in audio, the report found.
Consumers also have varying opinions on which content formats provide the best sound quality. For example, 43 percent of consumers consider FM radio to provide superior sound quality while a similar number (46 percent) consider the audio from HDTVs to be high quality.
"Sound quality depends on both the audio source and listening device, and manufacturers and retailers have the unique ability to educate consumers on what constitutes high-quality audio,” said Ben Arnold, CEA's senior research analyst. "Similar to HD and 3-D video technology, quality audio is experiential, so we encourage consumers to do in-the-field research. Hearing the difference among superior audio products can effectively sway consumers to consider and purchase high-quality audio technology."
Interest in audio generally follows a broader interest in technology, CEA noted. Half of audio enthusiasts are also early technology adopters. These consumers are also more likely to own key technology products such as smartphones (50 percent) and tablets (15 percent).
As expected, the convenience of online audio sources is growing in appeal among consumers. Four in ten consumers listened to audio content streamed from the Internet in the past year, while half of audio enthusiasts streamed content from an online source.
In addition, a whopping nine in ten consumers say sound quality is the most important component of a quality audio experience. Other factors including compelling content (85 percent) and superior audio electronics (72 percent) are also vital to consumer enjoyment, the survey found.
While consumers spend the second most amount of time listening to audio at work, expectations for high sound quality in this environment are very low. On average, consumers spend 10.8 hours each week listening to audio content at work, but just one in four expect high-quality sound at the office.
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